Make Your Own Bacon

One of the best things about Simple As Fat is watching our members rediscover or discover a love for real food and cooking, gaining confidence in the kitchen and having fun making healthy and happy meals from scratch. One of our members, Emma, has really gone the whole hog and is now making her own bacon. She shares our recipe below…

What you will need for smoked bacon:

  • BBQ with lid
  • Pork belly – size depending on how much you want and the size of your BBQ! Ask your butcher to remove the rind and bones.
  • Curing Salt. This can be bought online (I always use Weschenfelder Supracure)
  • Large ziplock bag. (Waitrose do these if you struggle to find them)-
  • Bag of charcoal
  • BBQ Wood chips (Hickory, Apple, Oak etc, but good to experiment with flavours!)

Once you have bought your pork belly slab, rinse and pat it dry. You may wish to cut it in half for easier to handle slabs. Have a quick feel all over for any remaining small bits of bone and cut them out as nobody likes to crunch down on these once cooked!

Measure out the amount of curing salts you need. I use 50 grams per kilo of meat. Then simply rub into the pork on all sides. If you want to be a bit adventurous, you can also rub in other flavours such as garlic and rosemary or ground bay leaf, all spice, juniper berries and clove or even try adding coffee granules!

Transfer into your ziplock bag(s) and try to push as much air out before sealing. Pop them on to a baking tray and simply leave them in your fridge for 7 days.

Note: If you use more than one slab in a bag it is crucial that the slabs do not overlap each other, lay them side by side instead. Turn them over every day or two, give them a little massage and swish the juices around as they form, but do not empty these juices out – this is all part of the curing process!

After 7 days, discard the juice and thoroughly rinse under cold water, making sure to remove all the curing salts. If you prefer a less salty bacon, then you can soak the meat in a clean bowl with cold water for an hour or two.

Pat dry and lay the pork out on a couple of racks and leave in the fridge, uncovered, overnight. This allows the skin to dry which really helps the smoke to stick leaving that amazing strong flavour! If you are desperate, you can skip this part but I do find that it is worth waiting one more day – if you can!

BBQ time! As you do not want to cook the bacon but simply smoke it, only put your coals on to one quarter/third of the BBQ as your meat will be put on the other side away from direct heat.

You do not need a lot as you can simply add some more halfway through if needed. When your coals are white, this is the time to add your wood to your coals. Depending on what kind of wood you buy, you can either pre-soak the wood chunks in water then add, or just add dry.

If you have a thermometer, the temperature should be around 225°F before adding the meat and closing the lid. I do not have a thermometer so just judge it by eye and hand and it has never failed me! Then you just leave it to smoke for 2/3 three hours.

Try not to keep lifting the lid to ‘check’ as you will lose your lovely smoke, but if this is your first time, a little peak to see if you need to add a few more coals etc is perfectly acceptable.

Once the time is up, remove your beautiful slabs of pork and leave them to totally cool down as it is much easier to slice when cold. I cut off any uneven sides first then chop them into lardons for meals like Caesar salads or omelettes… Enjoy!

P.S. If you do not like smokey bacon, you can simply follow the curing instructions above, rinse and pat dry after 7 days – then start slicing and cooking.

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